Thursday, November 10, 2011
Cooking With Lavender: Lavender Cajeta Sauce
Okay, so I've been promising several people this post for a long time. (Hi Daniel!) As it turns out, this is very timely since Cajeta reminds me of fall. As in caramel. Caramel on baked apples, crispy fresh apples dipped in caramel sauce, poured over apple cake, pound cake, ice cream, cheese cake, stirred in coffee...well, you get the idea.
(And yes, eaten straight from the jar! There, I said it!)
I posted about Eva and her rich and creamy goat milk I use to make my goat milk soap here.
Well, sometimes I have a little goat milk left over after measuring and freezing the milk for future soap batches. So of course I have to experiment with it.
I've tried several different things to flavor cajeta sauce. A hot pepper once, but that didn't go over well. A cinnamon stick, which was tasty. A split vanilla bean, also tasty.
But, hey, I do have a lavender farm after all. So naturally I had to try lavender. It was the best. Best. Best by far. (And perhaps I'm prejudiced, but there you go.)
The recipe I use is adapted from one I found a while back by chef Rick Bayless. Except for the addition of the lavender, it's pretty much the same recipe as his, so I don't lay claim to being the original creator. Just want to make that clear. (That said, it's a common homemade recipe in Mexico, so probably not original to Rick either.)
2 quarts goat's milk
2 cups sugar
1 tea ball strainer filled with culinary lavender ( probably 1 Tablespoon, which you could also wrap in cheesecloth or muslin)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 Tablespoon of water
In a large pot (I used a 6 quart dutch oven), combine the milk, sugar and lavender over medium heat. Stir regularly until milk comes to a simmer and all the sugar is dissolved.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the dissolved baking soda. It will foam up a bit. When the bubbles subside, return the pot to the heat.
Adjust the heat so the milk is simmering briskly, but not boiling.
Cook, stirring regularly, until the mixture turns a pale golden color, which takes about an hour.
After about an hour the mixture will start turning more of a caramel brown color. Stir more regularly as it begins to thicken so that it doesn't start to stick to the bottom of the pan. This step usually takes me another 30 minutes. I test the sauce by dropping it on a chilled plate, but you can also drop some into ice water to see if it forms a little ball. It should have a medium-thick consistency.
(Note: Chef Rick suggests adding a tablespoon or so of water if it gets too thick, like caramel candy. I've never had to do this 'cause I'm a pot watcher!)
At this point remove it from the heat and allow to cool. For a stronger lavender flavor, leave the tea strainer in as it cools. For less of a lavender flavor, take it out and allow to cool.
I usually strain it as I pour the cooled sauce into jars to remove any lumps. This will keep a month in the fridge, just re-heat when you're ready to enjoy!
People love to get this as a gift. I think they like the novelty of it. If you don't want to make your own, you can buy it from Fat Toad Farm (I'm dying to try it over brie as they suggest on their site, or banana crepes, or a dozen of the other great goat milk recipes they have, like goat milk brownies! Yum!). Or Beekman 1802 where the Beekman boys spice it up with a hot pepper.
If you know of another resource and want to add it to the comments, please do. If you've made cajeta I'm sure we'd all love to hear about it.
For this batch of Cajeta I also made Goat Milk Ice Cream, which I'll share in another post. It was divinely smooth and creamy and rich!
I'm thinking of dressing up a plain cheesecake with Lavender Cajeta for Thanksgiving. A nice little surprise on the dessert buffet!
Have a wonderful day!